WOOD COUNTY, Ohio — Wearing a mask is no longer a debate or a choice in Wood County. All residents are now required to wear them while out in public after the county was moved to the red zone (level three) on the state's new COVID-19 public alert system.
The mandate went into effect at 6:00 p.m. July 10. A shopper on Main St. in Bowling Green said Gov. Mike DeWine and the state's response so far through this pandemic has been good, so she trusts this latest mandate.
"I think it's definitely a commonsense approach," Maria Berry said. "And I think that I've been very impressed with how (Gov. DeWine) has taken science into account, that he's listened to the experts."
Wood County is one of 12 counties in the red zone on the state's new COVID-19 alert system.
Up until now, it had been up to businesses to decide if customers needed masks. Grounds For Thought in Bowling Green has required them since their reopening in May.
"We just really understand the risk if something were to happen," general manager Monica Gonzalez said. "And we just want to keep our employees safe and our customers as safe as possible, so we just thought it was best to require it from the start."
Governor DeWine took some heat early on in the pandemic for initially requiring masks, before reversing that decision and leaving it up to businesses.
"It makes sense that he was at least willing to give it a chance and see how things went, but now the numbers have been gradually increasing," Berry said.
The mandate also applies to recreational events like the Carter Baseball Classic happening this weekend. All parents and coaches have to wear a mask and socially distance.
"We have hundreds to thousands people possibly come through the facility that we have to educate and make sure they're following our guidelines and protocol," Bowling Green Youth Baseball at Carter Park president Tim Dunn said.
Not everyone wants to wear a mask. One Sylvania parent said that she and her family rarely do but if it means her son gets to play ball, she will.
"Our family doesn't typically wear a mask when we go out," Christine Borer said. "But, I do feel like respecting the measures that the county and the government is taking is worth it just to watch my kids play baseball."
Dunn said with everything still going on concerning the coronavirus, the baseball tournament is a much-needed escape.
"Kids are excited, to tell you the truth," Dunn said. "If you go around the dugouts right now or the fields, they're just glad to be out on the fields running around with their buddies."
The alert system will be reevaluated weekly to adjust for increases or decreases in risk for COVID-19.